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Thursday, April 26, 2018
Supreme Court Sales Tax Case Should Help Book Industry
the Supreme Court weighs arguments in a case before it about whether Internet
sales can be taxed just like a purchase at the mall, book publishing insiders
anxiously await their decision.Will a vote
to tax online sales impact the book industry, and if so, how?
the positive side, if Net sales are treated like those at a physical store, a
boost will be given to the tax proceeds collected by the government.The e-commerce world is huge and growing
bigger by the day, and without a change to the law, billions of dollars each
year will go uncollected for roads, safety, education, elder care, healthcare,
and all of the valuable services a government can and should provide.
2002, with the Internet into its second decade of existence, 45 billion dollars
of goods were purchased online.The
amount doubles every five years.It
actually tripled in 2007 to 136 billion, then doubled in 2012 to 230 billion
and doubled again in 2017 to nearly 453 billion. In 2018, it exceeds half a
of the Net transactions get taxed today.The
law says if you have an office or a physical presence in the state, you must
tax goods sold to people living there.Only recently did Amazon volunteer to collect taxes in most states.Many of the big retailers – with a physical
and digital presence – have their goods taxed.But many Internet-only and smaller businesses do not charge sales tax.
not charge sales tax allows a business or individual to gain an advantage over
others.The digital world already cuts
overhead costs for them but the tax differential could be used as an added
incentive for a shopper to go online.This
hurts brick-and-mortar stores and these are the businesses that really serve
the community – they buy real estate, pay real estate and sales taxes, hire
locals, and create a physical presence that’s sorely needed for the human race.
to tax online sales creates an undue burden of paper work and cost to the
online business.Perhaps the process can
be simplified and made less costly.Those who will get hit hardest are those who re-sell used stuff on ebay
and CraigsList, those who act as third-party affiliates, and those who seek to
earn some extra money on the side by selling their art, books, crafts, etc.
book industry should want all sales taxed.It does better when physical copies are purchased in bookstores.If online sales or ebook sales are rewarded
or seem more appealing, the entire infrastructure of the book industry collapses.
one wants a separate argument about how our tax dollars are misappropriated or
how Trump’s tax cuts for the uber rich hurt the poor, or whether all states
should charge a sales or income tax are all debates for another time and place.There is a sales tax in most of this country,
so what can be done to level the playing field between the digital and physical
I will say this, there should be a sales tax exemption on books. Most states
don’t tax newspapers and magazines.Books should be no different.When the government can tax information and free speech, there becomes a
control on the dissemination and flow of ideas, views, and facts.
a mop and a car and bag, not a book, where the product is words arranged in a
certain order.The book industry
deserves a tax break -- literally -- and there would be no better way than to drop
the sales tax on books.But if a tax on
sales is to be charged, do so whether the sale is made by computer, phone,
in-person, at a store, or on Mars.